Spring NCAA sports cancelled following COVID-19 pandemic, causing limited funding


Courtesy of Islander Athletics/TWITTER

Islander Athletics released this guide on March 31 to aid student athletes following closures.

On March 12, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced the cancellation of the 2020 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, including all remaining winter and spring scheduled sporting events. This announcement was in order to protect the health of players, coaches, officials, staff, fans, etc. In contrast, it also proved problematic for university sports and student athletes in areas of sporting events, NCAA funding, recruiting and scholarships.

At the time of the cancellation made by the NCAA, the Islander women’s basketball squad was in Katy, Texas getting ready for the Southland Conference tournament in Houston for a shot at a conference title. The team finished with a combined record of 23-7 and 17-3 in conference play, marking their status for first in conference standings.

“It was pretty devastating for them not being able to finish their season,” said TAMU-CC Athletic Director Jon Palumbo. “They won out their regular season and were placed the top seed heading into the tournament with the possibility of qualifying for the NCAA tournament after.”

This would have been the women’s basketball team’s first time qualifying for the NCAA tournament in program history if they were able to win out the Southland Conference Tournament. Following the suspension of the 2020 spring athletic season, the NCAA announced a decision to extend athletic eligibility for this year’s seniors on March 30.

“Effectively, this year doesn’t count toward their eligibility with the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Palumbo. “… If they did come from different schools, the school could pay for the scholarships of those returning athletes, as they’re essentially exempted from the normal NCAA scholarship equivalently limit of each sport.

Now following the pandemic, [NCAA member distribution] will be reduced over half to $225 million, leaving many university athletic departments with limited funding …”

“There’s been a lot of crunching numbers on our side trying to make it work, and with us trying our best to honor our seniors with their scholarships while also honoring the commitments to all of our incoming student athletes,” continued Palumbo. “There’s been a lot of work, a lot of conversations with the coaches, and with those student athletes to try to put together a plan moving forward”

The NCAA also stated they will be cutting their annual distribution to membership, meaning all division one schools will receive less funding due to the cancellation of the NCAA tournaments, which make up a large portion of revenue for the NCAA. The total amount of that distribution was scheduled to be on target for around $600 million in the 2020 fiscal year. Now following the pandemic, it will be reduced over half to $225 million, leaving many university athletic departments with limited funding.

How it works is the NCAA gives funding or money to conferences, which then trickle down to the universities who are a part of those respected conferences. With no money to give to these conferences, universities face cutting back on certain spending. Moreover, the NCAA took out a line of credit against future revenue, so they will be able to spare necessary funding for conferences and universities.

“Were down about 70% of our revenue distribution from the NCAA, between this year and next,” said Palumbo. “It’s spread over the course of two years for us. We’re doing a little bit of a deep dive on our financials right now and looking at ways we can save for the rest of the year, including a spending freeze in place for our department at the moment.”

College recruiting has also taken a hit with the rise of COVID-19, with there being an “emergency recruiting dead period” in place until further notice. This refers prohibiting coaches and collegiate staff from traveling on the road to recruit high school athletes or bring those individuals to college campuses for official visits. This is believed to be in place until the end of May or the spring season. College coaches will have to resort to reaching high school athletes via phone call, video chats, email, etc. to make up for the recruiting halt.

“As far as our activities … all of our facilities are shut down, as there is a stay home order for our county, resorting to all non-essential personnel being sent home,” said Palumbo. “That goes for all of our coaches, the vast majority of our student athletes. … They’re not able to practice, train or workout in any university sponsored gym or weight room. All of that is shut down for the time being.”

The cancellation of spring semester sports has had a drastic effect on all aspects of collegiate sports, leaving many to hope the suspension will be lifted sometime in mid-July in preparation for fall sporting events.